You Built It, They Stole It

President Barack Obama has not made a secret of the fact that he believes government is the answer to almost any problem that could arise in a civilized society, even those problems that government has created.

The vague statements about “Hope” and “Change” that Obama made during his first Presidential run quickly made way for a bolder mantra that has evolved over the past three years to the point that each of his speeches nearly indicates dictation from a collectivist handbook.

Obama in 2009 told us that government was the only answer to the economic woes facing our Nation when he said during a speech at George Mason University: “Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy — where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending.”

At a commencement speech at the University of Michigan in 2010, the President told students: “Government is the police officers who are here protecting us and the service men and women who are defending us abroad. Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe. Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. Government is this extraordinary public university — a place that is doing life-saving research, catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small.”

And in June, on the campaign trail, Obama said that Americans as a whole came to an understanding after World War II that government, not the market, should drive the economy in saying: “Yes, there have been fierce arguments throughout our history between both parties about the exact size and role of government — some honest disagreements. But in the decades after World War II, there was a general consensus that the market couldn’t solve all of our problems on its own.”

The President’s most recent government-is-the answer remarks represent more than rhetoric, they represent a chance to stand back and take a look at the things government has done. This is a time for all Americans to step back and take a look at just who did build this, and who is tearing it apart.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Let’s examine Obama’s remarks.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.”

The President isn’t a liar in this respect. No doubt, every successful person has had someone to look up to, a mentor or a source of encouragement. Perhaps someone who, as a young entrepreneur, endured the same struggles you were going through lent a hand or gave you some sound advice. Perhaps a teacher did push you a little harder and expect you to achieve a little more. Maybe your parents helped you get your business off the ground. Or business partners who shared your vision also shared your risk.

Where Obama loses his credibility is in inferring that the benevolence of the Federal government is responsible for the creation of any productive venture, for benevolence and government are mutually exclusive. A government cannot exist unless it is propped up by the productive members of the society it was created to serve. And in a free society, those producers would opt to take a reasonable loss on profits to pay for services that contribute to an environment healthy to business.

Ayn Rand writes in The Virtue of Selfishness:

In a fully free society, taxation—or, to be exact, payment for governmental services—would be voluntary. Since the proper services of a government—the police, the armed forces, the law courts—are demonstrably needed by individual citizens and affect their interests directly, the citizens would (and should) be willing to pay for such services, as they pay for insurance.

This brings us to vet another portion of Obama’s statement.

Somebody invested in roads and bridges.”

Indeed. American producers invested in roads and bridges and continue to do so. Via the taxes they pay each and every day, commuters invest in roads and bridges. Any business that ships products or employs people who commute to work invests daily in roads and bridges. Any commuter who drives through a toll booth invests in roads and bridges. And it is safe to say, without those entrepreneurs who continue to produce, the investment would shrink substantially. Roads and bridges, you see, affect the interests of producers directly and, unlike welfare for the able but entitled class, are necessary for production to result in profit.

Unfortunately, the parasitic nature of government creates an environment in which the stewards of the investment are not held fully accountable for their actions. A 2010 report from the Public Interest Research Group tells how nearly half of the roadways throughout the Nation are in disrepair. Why? Because politicians dependent upon votes to continue receiving taxpayer-funded salaries get more publicity and more special interest kickbacks from new road ribbon cuttings than maintaining existing roadways. Government leads to American motorists’ having to travel a road pitted with potholes just so they can reach a bridge to nowhere.

In order to continue to understand the President’s faulty reasoning, let’s look at his older statements. When he discussed how regulations created by the benevolent government are keeping us all safe at the University of Michigan in 2010, he left a few things out.

Thanks to grants provided by the Federal government to the police who keep you safe, they are increasingly equipped with military-grade equipment that they are poorly trained to use. Many are becoming trigger-happy and careless; every day, news reports detail the frightening consequences.

The regulations that protect miners and other workers from unsafe conditions and the environment from unsafe practices by industry were once a shining example of how an industrialized society could remain both profitable and careful. But Obama neglects to mention how increasingly crippling regulations have eaten profits and created an environment in which running a business is nearly impossible.

The Environmental Protection Agency is doing its best to make American industry uncompetitive with unrealistic standards that only Federal rule makers could dream up.

The agents of the state running the Food and Drug Administration have entwined themselves so deeply with moneyed special interests that it is nearly impossible to discern where the agency ends and Big Agribusiness and Big Pharma begin. They serve these special interests by working to shut the doors of small alternative-health operations, natural-supplement providers and small food growers. Often, their goals are carried out by conducting raids and sending armed bureaucrats, not officers of the law, onto private property to threaten and intimidate small business owners who fail to adhere to insane demands.

The graduates of the public universities that Obama touted in that speech go to school with money received through taxpayer-funded Pell grants. If they are ineligible for the grants because they happen to have been born into a family that acquired wealth through years of hard work, they find a way to fund the education on their own. Their parents pay for it or their own hard work gains them a scholarship. Of course, if those are not options, the benevolent Federal government steps in and offers loans that never go away on terms that sound too good to be true. A slave class is now emerging as a result of the student loan option. Americans owe about $1 trillion in student loan debt, and the cost is growing daily. The figure that is dropping is the number of graduates finding jobs outside of the local burger shack.

And as the value of education drops, the price of a degree rises. The reason for this is simple economics, but you couldn’t learn it in most public university economics classes.

If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

If you are a small-business owner, the truth is you did build your business. Nobody else made it happen. You built your business by jumping through hoops, taking risks, sacrificing family life and fun, losing it all and starting over, and constantly believing that you can be no other than the self-made man who keeps the gears of society in motion. You did this in spite, not because of, the corrupt, parasitic, ever-growing cancer that is the Federal government.

Unfortunately, along the way, you and the producers who came before you also made it possible for the criminals and wealth redistributors who have usurped what was meant to be a government of limited service to build something of their own by the sweat of your brow. They have now managed to create and enable an enormous dependent class; to transition your law enforcement from pro-community to parliamentary force; and to put in place crippling regulations, taxes and fines. And while you weren’t looking because you were building your business, “somebody else” was attaining every last resource they need to steal your profit and tie your hands.

You built it all — your business directly and their criminal empire indirectly — as they stole from and deceived you every step of the way. Now, it seems, it is time to evaluate success and decide which one must be torn down and re-structured from the bottom up. As an entrepreneur or a producer, there is no doubt you can tell which business model has failed.

Good Books For Liberty


AN ANALYSIS


The Library of Congress is currently celebrating books that it deems have been instrumental in shaping the American mystique with a list of 88 titles and an exhibit in Washington, D.C.

The Library contends that the list is not one of “best” American works of literature but rather of works that have influenced the lives of most all Americans in one respect or another. Among the titles included on the list are such classic works as Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, Allen Ginsberg’s controversial test of free speech no matter how controversial in “Howl”, and lighter works like Dr. Seuss’s iconic “The Cat in The Hat”.

Many are titles that a majority of Americans have or should have read at one time or another during youth or education. Surprisingly, given that the list was compiled by an entity of the Federal government, there are also a few titles that all liberty-loving Americans should have in their libraries.

If you haven’t read the following titles, you should.

“Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (1776)
 
Paine, in his writings, laid forth in common language why the American colonies needed to become free of British rule while the idea of independence was still under debate. “Common Sense” describes how “natural liberty” must remain an important part of any governmental body and rejects the idea that any people should live under a permanent ruling class. Paine’s work was considered one of the most “incendiary” of the Revolutionary period and is credited for bringing the common man into the political debate.
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“The Federalist” by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (1787)
 
In order to understand why many people believe that the Federal government has ballooned wildly out of control and taken on powers which it was never intended to have, “The Federalist” is a go-to guide. Alexander Hamilton has been referred to by some historians as “the founding father of big government,” for his faith in the power of institutions to create good policy. His writings in “The Federalist” do not reflect the accusations, as he discussed his high regard for State’s rights. Reading those writings and studying Hamilton’s later actions also illustrates how dishonesty from politicians is nothing new in America.
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“Walden” Henry David Thoreau (1854)
 
What Thoreau’s work about the importance of embracing nature in life rather than living in constant pursuit of material possession lacks in practical prepper information, it makes up for in philosophy. More than 150 years ago, Thoreau believed that Americans were enslaved by money and debt, overly distracted by social life, killing themselves with poor diets and wholly unable to provide basic needs for themselves. He decided to shun society for two years, living near a pond in Concord, Mass. In modern society, with all of Thoreau’s aforementioned complaints amplified, “Walden” offers interesting perspective on the importance of self-reliance.
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“The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair (1906)
 
In this early investigative journalism piece, Sinclair brings to light the horribly unsanitary conditions that were found in Chicago’s meatpacking districts in the early 20th Century. This is the book that established a meatpacking law and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 creating the agency that eventually became the Food and Drug Administration in 1930. Realizing the disgusting conditions that existed in food plants prior to the establishment of the entities, but also considering how the FDA has become a Gestapo force for big agribusiness and pharmaceutical giants today, one can understand the true meaning of the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
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“Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury (1953)
 
Bradbury depicts an American future without 1st Amendment rights in which books are burned, critical thinking is shunned and people are allowed only information provided them through government-approved television programing. In the dystopian novel, government officials believe that a public inundated with endless television chatter and popular culture, remains productive and efficient for those in charge.
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“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand (1957)
 
In “Atlas Shrugged”, perhaps the most poignant title on the list given the current political landscape, Rand illustrates what might happen if society’s producers, fatigued by overbearing regulation and taxation for the collective good, suddenly resisted: inevitable societal collapse. If you disagree with President Barack Obama’s recent assertion that government, not hard work, is the secret behind entrepreneurial success, this is a novel for you. If you agree with the President, you too should read Rand’s masterpiece. If the current anti-business attitude persists in the United States, Atlas could shrug any day now.
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There are several other good-for-fun reads on the Library’s complete list (which can be found here), and no doubt many other works not on the list that American patriots should read. Of the Library’s 88 suggestions, however, these are the most important to understanding why liberty must remain a part of the American tradition.

Socialist France Losing Citizens

It turns out socialists know how to grow the economy in one segment of the market: real estate.

French real estate agency figures show that following the country’s recent election of a socialist president and political majority, wealthy Frenchmen are opting to move out of the country.

From The Telegraph:

Sotheby’s Realty, the estate agent arm of the British auction house, said its French offices sold more than 100 properties over 1.7 million euros between April and June this year – a marked increase on the same period in 2011.

Alexander Kraft, head of Sotheby’s Realty, France, said: “The result of the presidential election has had a real impact on our sales.

The exodus is most likely the result of a round of “share the wealth” proposals being considered by French socialist leaders. The government is currently in the process of trying to implement a 75 percent tax rate on French taxpayers earning more than 1 million euros yearly and a tax raise on the middle class in the country from 41 to 45 percent.

France’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has promised the new government will quickly enact a number of other socialist reforms as well. These include plans to construct more than a 500,000 new public housing units each year, the right for same-sex couples to get married and adopt children, a higher minimum wage and the right to vote in municipal elections for documented immigrants who have resided in France more than five years.

News 'Content Mills' Dupe The Public

Faced with falling profits and a failing to make an easy transition into the digital age, some American news media outlets have turned away from facts and embraced dishonesty to resuscitate a dying industry.

This has been illustrated by the story of a scandal that has developed over the past few months involving such big name news peddlers as the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, among others. All of these companies, in the name of profits, opted to turn to a news mill called Journatic for the production of local content.

Journatic produces this content by searching the Internet for local information on home sales, death notices, Little League scores, police blotter entries, honor rolls, school lunch menus and company press releases and then hiring low-paid and often foreign writers to piece together the information. Its U.S.-based writers receive as little as $12 to $24 for 500-word to 1,000-word stories and Philippine-based content producers get around 35 to 40 cents per piece for their work.

The work is then put through an assembly line of sorts whereby content is added by a string of producers and edits are made by editors. Many of these assembly line news stories have been published under false bylines. This, according to Poynter, was the case with more than 350 stories published on behalf of the Houston Chronicle.

Controversy surrounding Journatic’s outsourced local “journalism” and use of fake bylines was brought to light in a recent radio broadcast of “This American Life.” In the weeks following, many papers reviewed the Journatic content that they received and often found evidence of plagiarism and in some cases outright fabrication.

The Chicago Tribune completely dropped its contract with Journatic and announced this week that it would fill the content void with real local reporters and freelancers. With public pressure other news outlets may follow suit or avoid getting contracts with content mills in the first place.

Deficit, Europe May Spark Fed Action

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, saying that the economy is still floundering and hinting that another round of Federal Reserve action is on the horizon.

Much of Bernanke’s focus was placed on European economic markets and U.S. lawmakers’ inability to agree on a plan to reduce the budget deficit at home without drastically sharp cuts and tax hikes.

On Europe, Bernanke said: “The Federal Reserve remains in close communication with our European counterparts. Although the politics are complex, we believe that the European authorities have both strong incentives and sufficient resources to resolve the crisis.”

But he concluded that European developments that resulted in a disruption in global financial markets would inevitably pose significant challenges for the U.S. economy that the Fed is ready to combat.

At home, the Fed chairman said that “U.S. fiscal policies are on an unsustainable path” said lawmakers should put high priority on a “medium term” deficit-reduction plan.

“The most effective way that the Congress could help to support the economy right now would be to work to address the nation’s fiscal challenges in a way that takes into account both the need for long-run sustainability and the fragility of the recovery,” he said. “Doing so earlier rather than later would help reduce uncertainty and boost household and business confidence.”

Economic experts say that Bernanke’s testimony alludes to his willingness to enter another round of Fed economic manipulation; but expect it to occur months from now, as it is the Fed chairman’s only remaining option.

Paul, Bernanke: The Final Showdown?

Wednesday will mark an important moment for anyone who has come to question the shady operations and perceived benefit to American economic policy of the Federal Reserve in the past few years because of Representative Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) crusade against the central bank.

This will likely mark the last time that the soon-to-retire Congressman and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee will have an opportunity to lecture Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during a committee meeting.

Paul said he wants to remind Bernanke of the same message he’s been pushing during his entire legislative career.

“It’ll be hard to think up anything brand new other than reiterating my concerns over the last 30 years,” he told The Hill in an interview.

When Paul took over as chairman of the Financial Services Committee he opted to take an approach that would make the Fed a central issue and a household name with many Americans rather than simply issuing subpoenas for information from the central bank. The lawmaker began to call in economists and scholars to point out the flaws in the Fed’s monetary policy, which served more to teach Congress about other options for American monetary policy.

Paul has managed to bring together both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in criticizing the central bank, and he has created an outpouring of public support for more scrutiny from members of his own liberty movement and the Occupy Wall Street crowd. His bill for a comprehensive audit of the Fed is also moving, thanks in part to its 271 co-sponsors; it will likely be passed by both Congressional chambers.

Below are some of Paul’s most educational exchanges with Bernanke (in no particular order):

Is gold money?

 

 

Why would some people not support a Fed audit?

 

 

 

How has the Fed impacted the value of money?

 

 

Maybe your theories are wrong.

 

 

The only question now: Who, if anyone, will continue to fight to hold the Federal Reserve accountable in Paul’s absence?

Florida Man Shot Dead By Cops For Answering Door Armed

A Florida man was shot dead by deputies of the Lake County Sherriff’s Department at 1:30 a.m. Sunday when they failed to identify themselves as police officers and banged on the door of his apartment.

The officers were pursuing alleged attempted murderer Jonathan Brown, whom they had seen attempt to smash another individual in the head with a concrete block, when they trailed him to an apartment complex. Police then located a motorcycle on which they believed Brown had fled and began to bang on the door of the apartment across from where it was parked.

The apartment belonged to 26-year-old Andrew Scott, a man reportedly unrelated to the incident the police were investigating, who answered the door wielding a handgun. The officers, who said they did not identify themselves as police when banging on the door, claim that Scott pointed the weapon at them after opening the door. An officer then opened fire, killing Scott.

Wesh.com Orlando reports that the police say they are not at fault in the man’s killing.

“When we knocked on the door, the door opened and the occupant of that apartment was pointing a gun at deputies and that’s when we opened fire and killed him,” Lake County officer Lt. John Herrell said. “…It’s just a bizarre set of circumstances. The bottom line is, you point a gun at a deputy sheriff or police office, you’re going to get shot.”

The police later arrested Brown and another man involved with the crime they were investigating near the apartment where Scott was shot.

As police throughout the Nation continue to become increasingly militarized and deal with increasingly heinous crimes committed by criminals made reckless by hopelessness, this is only the latest in a string of stories of innocent civilians put in danger by police mistakes in the everyone-is-a-criminal environment.

They sometimes destroy the homes of innocents in SWAT raids.

Sometimes, they throw flashbang grenades through the windows of the wrong home and terrify grandmothers.

For more on the consequences of militarizing America’s police forces, read this.

Terror, Perverts And Big Brother

If the Federal government were able to develop a way to make individuals voluntarily opt in to a program that would collect vast amounts of public and private personal information, would you join?

It’s likely that you already have.

The social networking site Facebook has 900 million registered accounts throughout the world. These accounts include profiles for businesses, government organizations and individuals, who are perpetually posting details about their location and lifestyle. The social networking site feels to most people like an innocent way to keep in touch with family, friends and past acquaintances; but beneath its innocent veneer, a privacy nightmare lurks.

The most recent story about privacy and Facebook presents a catch-22 whereby the public must consider whether it is more important to be secure in one’s private correspondence or to give up that privacy in an effort to combat crimes against humanity.

The company currently operates software that monitors chats and posts for indications of criminal activity among its users. When the scanning software flags a suspicious chat exchange, it notifies Facebook security employees, who can then determine if police should be notified. It is not clear whether the scanned chats are permanently logged by Facebook.

While most people likely feel uneasy about employees of the social networking site having access to private correspondence, Facebook has sought to mitigate criticism by pointing out that it has already used this method to successfully thwart criminals that even the most strident privacy advocates would likely view with disgust.

In a Reuters report last week, law enforcement and FBI officials lauded Facebook for using its access to vast sums of human data to catch the kind of criminals that even some of the most hardened violent convicts hate: child sexual predators.

Referring to a recent case in which officials apprehended a 30-year-old male pervert who had targeted a 13-year-old Florida girl after receiving a tip from Facebook officials, the article says:

Officers took control of the teenager’s computer and arrested the man the next day, said Special Agent Supervisor Jeffrey Duncan of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The alleged predator has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of soliciting a minor.

“The manner and speed with which they contacted us gave us the ability to respond as soon as possible,” said Duncan, one of a half-dozen law enforcement officials interviewed who praised Facebook for triggering inquiries…

And goes on to explain:

[Monitoring] efforts generally start with automated screening for inappropriate language and exchanges of personal information, and extend to using the records of convicted pedophiles’ online chats to teach the software what to seek out…

“There are companies out there that are doing a very good job, working within the confines of what they have available,” said Brooke Donahue, a supervisory special agent with an FBI team devoted to Internet predators and child pornography. “There are companies out there that are more concerned about profitability.”

Finding Americans (regardless of how they feel about the entitlement to basic privacy) who disagree that keeping sexual predators away from children is a bad thing would be a task of considerable difficulty, but Facebook’s broad monitoring approach leaves questions unanswered about just how much of its users’ information is put under the microscope. For instance, do personal communications between adults involved in consensual sexual relationships get examined by a Facebook employee if the messages contain sexual language?

The company’s Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan, told Reuters that because software monitors the information first for key words and phrases, not employees, privacy is a nonissue unless users are up to no good.

“We’ve never wanted to set up an environment where we have employees looking at private communications, so it’s really important that we use technology that has a very low false-positive rate,” the company said in a statement regarding the process.

And on its website, the company makes it very clear that it is willing to hand law enforcement information about crimes committed by its users:

We may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law. This may include respecting requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law under the local laws in that jurisdiction, apply to users from that jurisdiction, and are consistent with generally accepted international standards.

We may also share information when we have a good faith belief it is necessary to prevent fraud or other illegal activity, to prevent imminent bodily harm, or to protect ourselves and you from people violating our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

At present, crimes of sexual predation and serious offenses like murder and assault are the only ones to have received media attention regarding Facebook’s involvement with law enforcement. It is unknown whether the company could change its role to become more involved in crime prevention regarding less serious matters, or even a kind of dragnet for something akin to the “thoughtcrime” discussed in George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984.

Whether Facebook does more internal monitoring of its users may, however, already be irrelevant to the question of privacy. Simply creating the platform that millions of people willingly use to record very personal details has already aided law enforcement and Federal intelligence-gathering outfits.

In 2009, the CIA’s investment arm In-Q-Tel began pumping money into Visible Technologies, a software firm that produces programs to monitor social media sites to collect public data. At first, the company claimed to be seeking only content that was made public on the Internet by its creators, leaving alone private content like that which is included on Facebook profiles. The CIA claimed it would not be used domestically, but rather as “early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally.”

Last November, the Department of Homeland Security said it is now operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” program to monitor online forums, blogs, websites and message boards to collect information to offer “situational awareness.”

Federal officials are increasingly citing the need for acronym-laden Internet bills for everything from protecting children, national defense and copyright to preventing corporations from preying on Internet users. And while the stated intentions may sound reasonable, the ways in which Federal and law enforcement officials are already using the Internet suggest ulterior motives.

The Internal Revenue Service uses social networking sites to find and punish tax dodgers.

The FBI uses information posted on Twitter as evidence enough to raid individuals’ residences.

The State Department recently created a “Tag Challenge” social media game to get citizens to post information they have about alleged criminals. The game promises a $5,000 reward to the first user who finds and uploads photographs of “bad guys.”

Federal agencies want to extend the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which allows phone tapping, to social media and are suggesting the sites begin working on ways to make it easy for the government to snoop.

If the urgency of Federal officials to gain more access into private information on the Internet is any indicator, the snowball of online government infringement will only grow more rapidly in coming years. They claim surveillance is necessary to catch criminals, foil spies and prevent mass uprisings. What Americans must ask themselves is if the promise of catching a few online perverts and averting hypothetical terror attacks is worth coming under the constant Internet surveillance of the state.

Student Loans Swallowing America

For years, young people in America have been told that if they fail to get a good college education, they will miss out on many of the opportunities given to their more-educated peers. There’s another thing they may be missing out on: about $1 trillion in Federal student loan debt.

A report released last week by Barclays indicates that the official estimates of the future burden of student loan debt have been understated to the tune of at least $225 billion. The Federal Reserve estimated the total to be at least $870 billion as of 2011.

Here are some points Barclays makes about the debt, referencing the Federal Reserve and the National Center for Education Statistics:

  • The growth of federal student loans outstanding in the past decade ($583 billion) is larger than the size of the government’s TARP bailout package ($431 billion).
  • Borrowers who graduated had a default rate of 3.7 percent in 2009, while those who dropped out had a default rate of 16.8 percent, and … a larger portion of the student loan debt is falling on those who will not receive the financial benefits of earning a degree.
  • Barely half of all borrowers were making payments as of the third quarter of 2011; 47 percent were either still in school or in deferral, forbearance or grace periods.
  • Given the weak labor market and increasing dropout rates, there is little reason to think that … future delinquency rates will be lower than the current national average (14 percent for all borrowers).
  • Currently, 15.5 percent of the outstanding student loan balance is held by borrowers 50 and older, and 4.2 percent is held by those 60 and older; and these age cohorts hold an even larger share (16.9 percent and 4.8 percent respectively) of the total past-due student loan balance. The average debt burden for borrowers over age 60 is $18,250.
  • The median education debt belonging to households in which the head of the household is retired increased by 62 percent between 2007 and 2009.
  • When combined with forecast growth in issuance, we estimate that the government will lose around $65 [billion] on student loans in the coming decade from subsidy rate re-estimates alone.
  • Between now and 2020, we think that IBR [the new income-based repayment programs] will cost the government a total of $190 [billion, due to write-offs].

By the looks of these statistics, it may be a ripe time for American students to better weigh the risks of incurring large sums of debt with the promise of better future employment to offset the investment cost.

Big Brother’s Body-Invading Lasers

Would you be comfortable if someone standing more 100 feet from you had the ability to extract information from the most personal space you will ever know, your own body, without your consent or knowledge?

Within the next two years, the snoops and nannies working for the Department of Homeland Security may have the technology to be able to do just that with the help of a laser-based molecular scanner currently being developed. The scanner will reportedly be capable of discerning everything from what you are concealing in your clothing or what residues may be on your garments, to freakishly intimate details like what you ate for breakfast, if there are drugs in your system or what your adrenaline levels are. All of these things could also be determined in real time by the gadgets.

The technology is being developed for the agency by In-Q-Tel, a private firm that acts as the “bridge” between the CIA and new technology companies to develop surveillance technology for government spying.

The laser scanner was created by the firm Genia Photonics, which specializes in creating laser scanning devices for biomedical applications, research and security.

Once fully developed, the devices will reportedly be introduced to airports, public places and border crossings and will likely be welcomed by travelers as a much less intrusive alternative to Transportation Security Administration groping. But the consequence will be a nearly absolute guarantee of the loss of personal privacy in places equipped with the scanners.

Some of the capabilities of Genia laser products:

They “can penetrate through many dielectric materials, such as clothing, paper, plastics, leather, wood and ceramics” to create an image. This could mean that nothing on your person remains private when you are within range of a scanner.

They can be used to conduct “sensitive and selective rapid identification of substances such as drug mixtures, chemical and biological warfare (CBW), explosives and toxic spills in field while adapting a non-contact approach to the hazard.” Have you ingested any substance of which Big Brother would not approve in the past few hours?

The laser scanners are small and inconspicuous and are capable of sending nearly instant analytic results to a computer equipped with a program that reads the results of the scan.

In-Q-Tel says that “an important benefit of Genia Photonics’ implementation as compared to existing solutions is that the entire synchronized laser system is comprised in a single, robust and alignment-free unit that may be easily transported for use in many environments… This compact and robust laser has the ability to rapidly sweep wavelengths in any pattern and sequence.”

Because of its portability, the technology could become common equipment for patrol officers or be located in all public areas if it becomes accepted by the public.

Hank Jr. Releases Album Of Conservative Zeitgeist

[pl_amazon_book_order src=”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=perslibedige-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B007U4DATW&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr”]For conservative country music fans looking for a song to psych them up for an end to the Presidency of Barack Obama in November, Hank Williams Jr. has you covered.

The country-music superstar and son of a country-music superstar has a new album in stores now entitled “Old School, New Rules” that is sure to please fans of his classic-country sound the Nation over. Though Williams has joined the ranks of living country legends, his new album — his first in three years — takes notes from some of America’s most iconic artists as he captures the spirit of the times in a few politically charged tracks.

In the album’s opening track, “Takin’ Back The Country,” Williams has a clear message for Obama: “Hey Barack, pack your bags…” Later in the album, the singer reminds Americans that they needn’t apologize for being fortunate enough to be citizens of a country built upon the principles of freedom and liberty in “We Don’t Apologize For America.”

In a track that sounds as if it could have been part of Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s campaign message or pulled from one of Ayn Rand’s iconic works on the value of Objectivism, Williams ponders “Who’s Takin’ Care Of Number One”?

In just more than 40 minutes of material, Williams takes on the President, the mainstream media and the Federal government’s assault on core American values with the skill of a seasoned editorial writer, and he still manages to include a couple of good drinking songs.

Listen to the full album below:

 

 

Last fall, Williams made national headlines when the cast of “Fox and Friends” took issue with the artist’s description of the relationship between Obama and Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner as being similar to Adolf Hitler and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being buddies.

 

 

The statement later caused ESPN to drop Williams’ decades-old “Are You Ready For Some Football” intro from its televised Monday night NFL games. But the singer said he emerged from the media-stirred controversy in the months following with a growing fan base.

Bloomberg’s Rampant Totalitarianism, And Stopping Its Spread


AN ANALYSIS


There is no question that maintaining law and order in America’s most populace city, New York, isn’t an easy thing to do. But where is the line between necessary public safety measures and creating an openly totalitarian regime within the borders of a country founded upon the principals of personal liberty and freedom?

Many people would agree that officials in New York City crossed it long ago.

The events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001 are ones that have defined our Nation for more than a decade. Fear of another mass casualty event in a heavily populated area has led police throughout the Nation to resort to Big Brother surveillance tactics assuming guilt before innocence and rampant spending on police power has bolstered many police departments to the point of domestic militarization. But nowhere is the phenomenon more visible than in the City of New York.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has become the poster boy for American nanny statism, was elected as the dust was still settling in the city following the World Trade Center attacks. In fact, New York’s mayoral primaries were ironically scheduled to take place on the very day that the attacks occurred. The primaries were moved to Sept. 25 of that year, and Bloomberg—a lifelong Democrat who changed parties for the election—emerged the victor on the Republican Party ticket.

In the general election Bloomberg—whose current net worth is around $22 billion and who owns 88 percent of the Bloomberg media empire including a New York radio station—faced a libertarian-leaning Democrat, Mark Green. Green’s campaign, however, was disadvantaged on many fronts.

First, he had criticized Mayor Rudy Giuliani who had become popular among many residents of the city because of his response to the 9/11 attack, for suggesting the city do away with the two-term limit on New York mayors. Giuliani had, however, been unsuccessful. He subsequently endorsed Bloomberg’s candidacy.

Green also lacked a financial war chest anywhere comparable to Bloomberg’s and planned to rely on public access media to advertise his campaign. Bloomberg’s hefty media relationships, meanwhile, earned him endorsements from a variety of major New York media outlets.

Another problem for Green was the fact that many fearful New Yorkers thought that he lacked the ability to protect the city from terror. Now, some in the city are beginning to learn that terror from law enforcement comes in more subtle but more disturbing ways when everyone is labeled a criminal.

 It was “a terrorist-provoked, money-soaked aberration.”

That is how The Economist described some New Yorkers’ reaction to the Bloomberg victory, as some Democrats began to point out the Republican-soon-to-be-mayor’s Democratic roots. Perhaps the “R” next to Bloomberg’s name made New Yorker’s feel he would be a better protector. After all, war hawks are almost always notable Republicans. So how has Republican Mayor Bloomberg done in protecting his city’s more than 8 million residents? He’s done pretty well, if it is a city where only thugs, terrorists and toddlers reside.

One of Bloomberg’s first moves as mayor was to replace Giuliani’s police commissioner with Raymond Kelly, the man who had previously held the position a decade before under former mayor David Dinkins.

Kelly immediately stepped up the stop and frisk tactics adopted under the Giuliani administration and began a campaign to lower the number of reported violent crimes in the city by putting pressure on individual precincts to reduce reports of major crimes while increasing citations and arrests for lesser charges.

It has become a numbers game for New York police officers, rather than a devotion to law and order. This means that New York Police Departments, through means of constant surveillance and intelligence gathering, have created a massive dragnet capable of entrapping any individual who in any way finds himself on the wrong side of even a footnote in the law book.

And Kelly, under Bloomberg’s direction, has most certainly given the New York Police Department every means necessary to operate as a totalitarian force—or in the Mayor’s words, his “personal army.” The NYPD now commands about 33,000 officers, including some who gather information in foreign countries and other U.S. States that lie completely out of their jurisdiction; operates very closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency; and has an annual budget of around $4 billion.

Yes, crime has dropped in the city. But there has also been a marked increase in reports of innocent New Yorkers being abused by the “army” of NYPD officers instructed to use jackboot tactics to enforce the city’s totalitarian policy initiatives.

Such is evidenced by the following examples:

The New York Times reported this week that a group of friends in Brooklyn received citations from undercover police officers for drinking in public because they were enjoying alcoholic beverages on the stoop of their home on July 4. The citations are being fought, as the individuals’ stoop is several feet away from the sidewalk and separated by a private gate.

Upon being informed that according to the law, the individuals were indeed on private property, an NYPD officer responded, “I don’t care what the law says, you’re getting a summons.”

Early last month, The Times reported that a New York Supreme Court justice approached a scene of chaos on a New York Street as two police officers dealt with an unruly crowd. The judge called 9-1-1 and reported that the officers may have been in trouble and in need of assistance. Unfortunately, standing too close to the events unfolding before him caused one of the officers to become enraged at the judge and punch him in the throat. There are dozens of other instances like these.

It has been noted by many New Yorkers that Manhattan, the epicenter of the 9/11 attacks, has become a militarized fortress likened to the New York City portrayed in “Escape From New York” the 1981 dystopian film that predicts the city would operate in the future as a maximum security prison.

While the push has reportedly dropped violent crime rates in some areas of the city (if you believe the official numbers), it has done so at the expense of basic 4th and 5th Amendment rights. And as for the effectiveness of the massive counter terror arm of the NYPD, it turns out the “terrorist-provoked, money-soaked aberration” that it grew from serves ulterior motives. While Kelly argued in an editorial in Newsweek last month that his department has thwarted at least 14 full-blown terror attacks in the past decade, it has been pointed out that two of the 14 actually failed because of the perpetrators ineptitude rather than NYPD intervention. A handful of the “thwarted terror attempts” were actually set up by the NYPD, which then recruited weak-mined patsies to label as terrorists. And other “terror attempts” were actually cases in which the department labeled individuals with no plans but who had been critical of government or involved in protests as “terrorists”; in those cases, no charges were filed.

So why does Bloomberg need such a force if it really isn’t that effective? Simple, New York’s mayor is a full-blown totalitarian control freak. As he neared the end of his second term with the prospect of another run hampered by the same law that booted Giuliani, he lobbied the City Council to change the New York term limit law, and they did. He controls a media empire that is capable of shaping much of the information disseminated about him to be largely positive, hence his ability to be re-elected time and again. And now in his third term as New York’s mayor, Bloomberg is really letting his penchant for complete control to shine brightly; right down to what residents of his city are allowed to eat and drink.

Bloomberg’s version of New York City should serve as a reminder to the rest of the Nation as to what can happen when Americans cast aside freedom and liberty in the name of safety. Sept. 11 changed the course of thinking in the United States, and New York City was the place hardest hit. But, domestic armies, constant surveillance and a loving nanny state are not the enemies of terrorists; they are the enemies of freedom and liberty utilized by elitists who wish to control your every move.

The rest of the Nation can be derailed from a slower track to the same destination if patriots fight back against elites like Bloomberg. But, it isn’t going to happen by relying on Washington D.C.’s group of criminals.

It must start in hometowns much smaller than New York City with Constitutional sheriffs, city councils that believe in private property rights, local police departments that maintain relationships with community members and residents willing to stand up to any of their local government agencies when totalitarianism begins to manifest itself in the smallest of forms.

Totalitarians hate freedom and they fear groups of liberty-minded individuals. By keeping these things in mind and by exercising Constitutional rights that remain to the fullest extent, Americans can keep the totalitarian cancer from spreading to every locale in the United States.

UN: Disarm The World, Quell Dissidence

A treaty being worked out this month at the United Nations could possibly make the Second Amendment the focus of international legal scrutiny.

Throughout the rest of this month, U.N. officials will continue international talks to work out the final language to be included in a so-called Arms Trade Treaty. The global agreement, that is supposedly an effort to fight international “terrorism,” “insurgency” and “crime syndicates,” has been actively engaged by the Administration of President Barack Obama.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said of the treaty, “Our goal is clear: a robust and legally binding Arms Trade Treaty that will have a real impact on the lives of those millions of people suffering from consequences of armed conflict, repression and armed violence…It is ambitious, but it is achievable.”

The specifics of the treaty have not been revealed, but involving the U.S. in such an agreement could have an impact on millions of Second Amendment-loving Americans by infringing upon their right to bear arms.

The National Rifle Association has been following the development of the Arms treaty for six years, since the George W. Bush Administration opposed a U.N. resolution that would have yielded similar results. NRA Executive President Wayne LaPierre recently addressed the U.N. regarding the issue and promised a fight from American gun owners:

On behalf of those 100 million American gun owners, I am here to announce NRA’s strong opposition to anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens’ right to self-defense.

No foreign influence has jurisdiction over the freedoms our Founding Fathers guaranteed to us.

We will not stand idly by while international organizations, whether state-based or stateless, attempt to undermine the fundamental liberties that our men and women in uniform have fought so bravely to preserve – and on which our entire American system of government is based.

…On behalf of all NRA members and American gun owners, we are here to announce that we will not tolerate any attack – from any entity or organization whatsoever – on our Constitution or our fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

LaPierre and other critics of the treaty contend that the stated purpose of eliminating “terrorism,” “insurgency” and “crime syndicates” focuses on individual ownership of firearms, but does nothing to regulate armed tyrannical governments. This, many people argue, sets the stage for the status quo to achieve world totalitarianism with no chance of rebellion.

Personal Liberty™ Ranked Among Top Libertarian Sites

Personal Liberty Digest™ was ranked in the top 10 among top Libertarian websites yesterday by Patrick McEwen’s Top Libertarian website.

Launched in February 2012 by McEwen, an aspiring Libertarian political writer and analyst, Top Libertarian ranks the top websites offering information about Libertarian issues based on unique visitor and page view Web traffic.

According to Top Libertarian’s analysis of the past three months’ Web traffic data provided by the Alexa Rankings, Personal Liberty Digest™ is in ninth place among top Libertarian sites. And we are in good company.

Here are the top 10 Libertarian sites for the past three months:

  1. Daily Paul: dailypaul.com
  2. Lew Rockwell: lewrockwell.com
  3. Reason Magazine: reason.com
  4. Ludwig von Mises Institute: mises.org
  5. Ron Paul 2012 Campaign: ronpaul2012.com
  6. Electronic Frontier Foundation: eff.org
  7. Ron Paul Forums: ronpaulforums.com
  8. AntiWar: antiwar.com
  9. Personal Liberty Digest™: personalliberty.com
  10. Marginal Revolution: marginalrevolution.com

For a complete list of top Libertarian websites, visit McEwen’s site here.

In the more than 42 years since Bob Livingston began publishing his printed newsletter with the information and wisdom that he collected through research, he has managed to build what could be likened to an empire of knowledge. What started off as a simple newsletter circulated to a few dozen Americans who realized mainstream disinformation was dumbing them down, changed with the tides of technology and expanded to the online realm. This has given Livingston and his staff the ability to more quickly sift through the lies and deceit spread by the elites who control the mainstream, and pass along what we learn to our readers on a daily basis.

Without readers, Personal Liberty Digest™ would have no function. On behalf of Livingston and the entire Personal Liberty™ staff, thank you for visiting our site and, most of all, for seeking information beyond what is provided you by the government, the manipulated media and the ruling elite. It is our sincere hope that the information you read here finds its way into your daily life, whether in political conversation, in making a healthy lifestyle choice, in protecting your wealth or in protecting your family from a disaster.

GOP: Repeal Obamacare By Voting

On Tuesday, House Republicans attacked President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law with full force throughout a series committee hearings and events at the Capitol preceding today’s vote to repeal the measure.

The GOP attacks on the healthcare law were likely intended to bolster public opposition to the law while creating an atmosphere causing Democrats to publicly defend it. Republicans want voters to rally against the law in upcoming Congressional races by selecting conservative candidates.

“If you give us more elected representatives to fix this problem, we will fix this problem in 2013,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said in an interview with CNBC.

Even if the House votes today to repeal Obama’s health plan, the Democrat-controlled Senate would kill the effort. And even if the Senate surprised conservatives by upholding the measure, Obama would veto the repeal.

“The last thing the Congress should do is refight old political battles and take a massive step backward by repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class,” the White House said in a familiar statement. “Right now, the Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs.”

Today’s vote is the most recent of more than 30 House GOP initiatives to strike down the healthcare law. It is the first vote on the matter since Chief Justice John Roberts appalled conservatives throughout the Nation by becoming the deciding vote that upheld the law’s Constitutionality in the eyes of the Supreme Court.

Cops Tracked Phones 1.3 Million Times In 2011

Ever wonder if you have a reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to information on your cellphone?

Well, according to data compiled by Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.), at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests were made last year for data from cellphone companies. Usually, the police were looking for things like text messages, location data, call logs and “cell tower dumps” (wireless carriers provide police with all of the phone numbers that connected to a particular cell tower in a period of time).

“We cannot allow privacy protections to be swept aside with the sweeping nature of these information requests, especially for innocent consumers,” Markey said in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what are they doing with the haystack? We need to know how law enforcement differentiates between records of innocent people, and those that are subjects of investigation, as well as how it handles, administers, and disposes of this information.”

The carriers reported that these requests have increased dramatically in recent years. This is likely because the mobile devices have become increasingly equipped with technology that allows them to log location data.

“Whether they realize it or not, Americans are carrying tracking devices with them wherever they go. Today’s new information makes it clear that law enforcement has carte blanche to follow the trail they leave behind,” Christopher Calabrese, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

Central Banks And American Aristocracy

The United States was built on the idea that every man should have at his disposal the means to achieve financial success regardless of who he is or has been or from where he came.

American society, by its very nature, has historically rejected the idea of an elite aristocracy with the means to lead a less-well-off citizenry by its nose simply because one possesses more political, and economic by way of political affiliation, clout than the other.

But in the 236 years that Americans have existed as a distinctly different people, the citizens of the country that French political writer Alexis de Tocqueville first called “exceptional” in his 1835 work “Democracy in America” have lost a great deal of exceptionalism by placing their trust in the wrong hands.

Around 1790, long before de Tocqueville made his trip to the States to better understand why America worked, there was a political debate brewing that has continued in some form until this very day. Even casual students of American history recall learning of the formation of the Nation’s first central bank and the heated debate about its Constitutionality among proponent Alexander Hamilton — America’s first Secretary of the Treasury — and its opponents then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Congressman James Madison of Virginia.

Hamilton argued that the establishment of the First Bank of the United States was absolutely necessary to stabilizing and improving the Nation’s credit. He also believed that the formation of the entity would improve the handling of America’s finances overall and handle the war debt that had been racked up by individual States that had printed their own currencies at times during the Revolution. Hamilton, a Federalist, believed that by allowing the Federal government to borrow from a largely private bank to assume the States’ war debts, power could be more easily centralized in the United States.

Jefferson, however, believed that the establishment of the central bank was unConstitutional, as it was a private entity — much like the modern Federal Reserve — and powers of coining and regulating money were specifically delegated to Congress in the founding document. He also believed that the establishment of a centrally controlled banking system endangered his vision of an agrarian republic, a society where producers or “cultivators of the earth” as Jefferson once said, steered the Nation’s economy.

In April 1791, President George Washington signed the bank bill into law. In 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act and recognized the dollar as the national currency, despite the fact that the first American experiment with paper money — the continental — led to rampant inflation; this is the reason only coinage is recognized as real currency in the Constitution.

It didn’t take long for government and central bank meddling to disturb the natural flow of economics. The “Panic of 1792” occurred when the bank flooded the market with loans and banknotes before revising its policy and reversing course. The sudden halt in market liquidity caused a short-lived panic and froze markets.

The First Bank did have some redeeming qualities, however, despite the con of growing the size of the Federal government. The war debts were largely paid off, and its focus on commercial activities allowed the economy of the United States to grow and diversify. Also, though it did have a lasting economic impact, the men running the institution knew that a great deal of risk taking could lead to the collapse of the young Nation.

The complaints that many Americans had about the first central bank are very similar to what modern Americans critical of the Federal Reserve say about its functions. They charged that there was too much foreign influence in the bank because three-fourths of its stock was foreign-owned. They believed the institution was concealing profits and operating in a shady manner. They were also critical of the bank’s ability to lend money to the government at will. In 1811, the charter to the First Bank of the United States was allowed to expire, but Hamilton’s Federalist legacy lives on to this day.

A year after the initial central bank’s charter expired, the United States found itself at war with Britain once again. After printing money to fund the War of 1812, questions about inflation started to arise and Congress again began to consider the formation of a second central bank. Again, it is important to note, a central bank was created in an effort to pay off war debts. In 1816, the Second Bank of the United States came into existence, but this time with more money to throw around ($35 million compared to the First Bank’s $10 million) and poor leadership. In fact, only 18 months after it opened it was on the verge of insolvency. In 1819, a new president, Langdon Cheves, set out to fix the bank which had continually lent capital to speculators whose ability to repay the loans was questionable. His tightening of loans led to the “Panic of 1819,” which died down quickly since the central bank did not meddle any further. In a letter to U.S. Minister of France Albert Gallatin, Jefferson noted that the wealth wiped out in the Panic was only the wealth that the bank itself had created.

Jefferson writes:

At home things are not well. The flood of paper money, as you well know, had produced an exaggeration of nominal prices and at the same time a facility of obtaining money, which not only encouraged speculations on fictitious capital, but seduced those of real capital, even in private life, to contract debts too freely. Had things continued in the same course, these might have been manageable. But the operations of the U.S. bank for the demolition of the state banks, obliged these suddenly to call in more than half of their paper, crushed all fictitious and doubtful capital, and reduced the prices of property and produce suddenly to 1/3 of what they had been.

In essence, Jefferson described to Gallatin precisely how the central bank was harming his cherished agrarian society by slashing the means of producers and landowners to make profits.

Andrew Jackson took office as President of the United States in 1829 and made it no secret that part of his small-government platform would be the end of the central bank. On this very day in 1832, Jackson vetoed the Second Central Bank’s charter renewal. He later signed an executive order announcing that the Federal government would no longer use it and removed all Federal funds from the bank. This Presidential action of decentralizing economic power has never happened since and will likely never again.

In his veto message, Jackson sums up the reason for his actions in closing:

Experience should teach us wisdom. Most of the difficulties our Government now encounters and most of the dangers which impend over our Union have sprung from an abandonment of the legitimate objects of Government by our national legislation, and the adoption of such principles as are embodied in this act. Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress. By attempting to gratify their desires we have in the results of our legislation arrayed section against section, interest against interest, and man against man, in a fearful commotion which threatens to shake the foundations of our Union. It is time to pause in our career to review our principles, and if possible revive that devoted patriotism and spirit of compromise which distinguished the sages of the Revolution and the fathers of our Union. If we can not at once, in justice to interests vested under improvident legislation, make our Government what it ought to be, we can at least take a stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of our Government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many, and in favor of compromise and gradual reform in our code of laws and system of political economy.

I have now done my duty to my country. If sustained by my fellow citizens, I shall be grateful and happy; if not, I shall find in the motives which impel me ample grounds for contentment and peace. In the difficulties which surround us and the dangers which threaten our institutions there is cause for neither dismay nor alarm. For relief and deliverance let us firmly rely on that kind Providence which I am sure watches with peculiar care over the destinies of our Republic, and on the intelligence and wisdom of our countrymen. Through His abundant goodness and heir patriotic devotion our liberty and Union will be preserved.

This where de Tocqueville re-enters the story, as he was traveling throughout the United States right about the same time Jacksonian democracy was taking hold in its strongest form, doing research for what would later become “Democracy in America.”

Though he described Jackson as a “man of violent character and middling capacities” in one passage, he was witnessing firsthand the President’s masterful efforts to protect American democracy from the greed of men who would privilege themselves by disadvantaging others.

Unfortunately, despite Jackson’s efforts to do away with the bank before any more damage could be done to the American public, State banks had already issued reckless loans throughout the country. Without a central bank to bail them out, another of Jackson’s economic policies — “Specie Circular,” which allowed for the payment for Western lands in gold and silver coinage — threw them into the “Panic of 1837.” This happened, in part, because the new influx of coinage into banks revealed the lack of true value in paper money. The depression lasted for eight years.

Later in the century, the country would fall into Civil War, a time during which government dabbled in more inflationary finance, racking up huge debts and setting the stage for a central bank once again.

An economic panic in 1907 was the final stepping-stone wealthy elites needed to once again regain control of the financial sector. Just a few years later, in December 1913, the Federal Reserve Act became law and created the central bank from which Americans have yet to free themselves. The creators of the Federal Reserve Bank examined the history behind the collapse of its predecessors and created a monetary goliath that would be difficult to dismantle to give them economic control over the masses.

And they did a good job. It has taken 99 years for the central bank that controls nearly everyone’s life by means of economic meddling to become a mainstream topic of discussion; much of the credit for the newfound interest in the Fed comes from longtime critic Ron Paul. Later this month, Paul’s bill for a full Fed audit is headed to the House floor, and he has written numerous times about what is wrong with the modern central bank. Republican resistance has made a Paul nomination nearly impossible. Had he been given a chance at the Presidency, he may have turned out to be the first President since Jackson to stand up to the economic aristocrats behind the curtain of the central bank. That sort of leadership, it seems, we need now more than ever.

Doomsdays Loom For Euro, Dollar

The European Union is, and has been for some time, in the midst of economic calamity. Matters are only getting worse, and Americans should be worried.

British politician Nigel Farage pointed out last week while speaking to the European Parliament that through 19 economic crises summits, Eurozone leaders have yet to make progress in saving the sinking euro ship.

Farage likened the latest summit to The Rolling Stones’ famous tune “19th Nervous Breakdown.”

The British lawmaker contends that the European Union has proven insoluble and suggests that its separate member nations leave the Eurozone, go back to original currencies and “get back their democracy and identity.”

But that isn’t likely to happen.

At the latest — “19th Euro Breakdown” — summit last month, European leaders moved to halt the economic crises that have taken hold in Spain and Italy by agreeing to a radical bailout package. As a part of the package, Eurozone leaders have committed to European Central Bank-led oversight for banks, hence allowing a rescue fund — the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) — to recapitalize banks directly. Traditionally, the taxpayer-provided bailout funds would have been lent to governments.

The leaders of the 17 Eurozone countries are expected to meet today to clarify bailout details, but say it will be months before they finalize the plan.

Farage said in a recent interview that the plan essentially creates a European debt union controlled by the economically solvent Germany. He predicts that political disagreement about allowing one European country to gain too much control will hamper any European bailout efforts and posits European leaders’ efforts to “kick the can down the road” and prolong the European economic collapse will ultimately fail as financial markets force a collapse.

 

 

As the United States is facing its own economic difficulties, a Eurozone collapse would have definite negative financial implications stateside. Longstanding economic cooperation between the European Union and the United States has led to a healthy trade relationship that would likely collapse along with the euro. The result will be higher consumer prices on some goods for Americans.

Actions that may be taken to aid the Eurozone by the International Monetary Fund should also raise concerns with Americans. Because of the United States’ involvement in the IMF — contributing about 18 percent of the IMF’s funding via American taxpayers — any attempt by the fund to rescue a collapsing euro would come in part from Americans’ pockets despite the fact that the IMF has no direct accountability to the American populace.

Another problem the U.S. economy faces in the event of a euro collapse is the Federal Reserve’s willingness to engage in the same tactics that have failed Europe to attempt to stimulate the economy both at home and globally. The Fed already moved last month to continue “Operation Twist” — a program designed to lower long-term interest rates in an effort to promote borrowing — until the end of the year, and is prepared to further intervene in markets if the euro fails.

“We are hoping for the best … but we are prepared in case things get worse to protect the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told reporters last month.

Bernanke’s preparations include the prospect of another round of quantitative easing (money printing), which could lead to massive dollar devaluation if Fed policy fails.

U.S., Russia Still At Odds Over Syria

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants United Nations member nations to put pressure on Russia and China to stop supporting Syrian leader Bashar Assad as a rebel uprising continues in his country.

Speaking to the leaders of about 60 Western and Arab countries collectively known as the “Friends of Syria” in Paris last Friday, Clinton criticized the two nations for using their veto power on the U.N. Security Council to block condemnations of Assad.

“I ask you to reach out to Russia and China and to not only urge, but demand that they get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people,” Clinton said. “It is frankly not enough just to come to the Friends of the Syrian People, because I will tell you very frankly, I don’t think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all — nothing at all — for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime.

“The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price, because they are holding up progress — blockading it — that is no longer tolerable.”

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said he did not agree with Clinton’s statement.

“We categorically reject that such a question would even be posed regarding the current situation in Syria and Russia’s ‘backing’ of President Bashar Assad. This is not a question of supporting certain political figures or leaders. This is a question of managing a crisis situation in the country within a normal political framework,” Ryabkov said, according to RT.

The United States has spent more than $57 million to support humanitarian organizations in Syria, and there has been talk of U.S. intelligence operatives arming rebels in the country. Meanwhile, Russia has been accused by the United States of sending weapons and ammunition to the Assad regime.

Ron, Rand Paul: Get Government Away From Internet

Over the Independence Day holiday, some Internet freedom groups sought to remind Americans of the importance of protecting the World Wide Web from overreaching government regulation, a cause that Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have joined wholeheartedly but with a different angle.

The Pauls set forth a plan to keep the Internet in the hands of the private sector, which they posit will shape the online world in a way conducive to freedom, liberty and economic growth in A Technology Revolution: A Campaign For Liberty Manifesto.

While other Internet freedom advocates have focused their efforts against Internet control more on corporate control of the Web, the Paul manifesto decries the “collectivist vision that seeks to regulate ‘fairness’, ‘neutrality’, ‘privacy’ or ‘competition’ through coercive state actions, or that views the Internet and technology as a vast commons that must be freely available to all.”

They say in the statement that corporations should not be heavily scrutinized by the government in their efforts to collect vast sums of online data for advertising purposes, but that government should be barred from using the Internet for warrantless surveillance.

The manifesto says:

Technology revolutionaries succeed because of the decentralized nature of the Internet, which defies government control. As a consequence, decentralization has unlocked individual self-empowerment, entrepreneurialism, creativity, innovation and the creation of new markets in ways never before imagined in human history.

But, ironically, just as decentralization has unleashed the potential for free markets and individual freedom on a global scale, collectivist special interests and governments worldwide are now tirelessly pushing for more centralized control of the Internet and technology.

The manifesto warns that Americans will be tricked into allowing the government to take over new technologies with the use of subversive language and under the guise of protecting Americans from evil corporations.

“Internet collectivists are clever,” the manifesto says. “They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously push for more centralized control. ‘Openness’ means government control of privately owned infrastructure. ‘Net neutrality’ means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be ‘neutral’.”

According to Buzzfeed, some Republican strategists contend that Internet freedom from government control will be the younger Paul’s go-to issue, similar to his father’s crusade against the Federal Reserve.

ACLU App Fights Bad Cops

A quick search on YouTube using terms like “police misconduct,”  “illegal police stops,” “police unlawfully detain,” etc. proves one thing: Cellphone technology has changed the way police and the public interact and provides citizens valuable tools to protect liberties.

Many times, this new ability to record police has been unwelcome by officers, some of whom have confiscated devices and attempted to remove recordings of encounters with the citizenry. And Americans have been conditioned to feel that they should cede to the requests of authority figures without question.

New Jersey’s branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, however, wants to make it easier for Americans to know their rights in the event that they must interact with law enforcement while also being able to discreetly record the encounter. With the help of mobile phone technology, the civil rights advocacy organization has released a new app called Police Tape.



The Police Tape app, which is currently available for Android phones and will soon be released for iPhones, has three functions: a “Know Your Rights” button that gives users an overview of their legal rights after they indicate whether they are interacting with police on the street, in a car and in their home, as well as advising them what to do if they are certain they’ll be arrested; a discreet audio-recording function; and a discreet video-recording function. With the help of the app, users are able to record police interactions without the screen of their mobile device indicating they are doing so. The phone also then saves the information in a hidden location that makes it harder for police to find and delete if they confiscate the device.

“This app provides an essential tool for police accountability,” said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey.

Incidents sent to the ACLU via the app get reviewed and also saved to an external server.

The app developer, OpenWatch, which is offering the product to users free of charge, offers this on its website:

The surveillance state has arrived and it is here to stay. The benefit to society in terms of security and justice is too great for it to ever go away. There is a problem, however, and the problem is not the technology. The problem is the lopsided distribution of who is in control of that technology. Surveillance technology is currently only in the hands of those who are already in power, which means it cannot be used to combat the largest problem facing modern society: abuse of power.

So the question remains: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” – roughly, Who watches the watchers?

This is where OpenWatch comes in. The recent ubiquity of mobile telephones with media recording capabilities and the ability to run any software the users chooses gives the public a very powerful tool. Now, we are all equipped to become opportunistic journalists. Whenever any of us come in contact with power being used or abused, we can capture it and make it become part of the public record. If we seek truth and justice, we will be able to appeal to documentary evidence, not just our word against theirs. Ideally, this will mean less corruption, more open government and a more transparent society.

The New York ACLU released a similar app last month called “Stop and Frisk Watch” to encourage those in the city subjected to a random stop and frisk to record the encounter.

The increasing interest in citizens keeping tabs on law enforcement comes on the heels of a number of high-profile stories of police misconduct.

All Frogs Praise Allah

Egypt has recently been through a revolution. Earlier this month, the country swore in its first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

Now, Morsi and the country’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood have moved on to more important business: Egypt’s highest fatwa council has issued its first fatwa under new rule to ban Muslims from killing frogs. A fatwa is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law.

Specifically, the fatwa reportedly orders that Muslims may not kill frogs to sell to Nations where they are eaten.

According to Jihad Watch, “the fatwa explains, according to Islam’s prophet Muhammad as recorded in a hadith, a frog’s ‘croaking is praise [to Allah].’ Accordingly, ‘a number of jurists [fuqaha] have relied on this [hadith] to forbid the eating of frogs, under the notion that ‘that which is banned from being killed, is forbidden from being eaten.’”

Animal-related fatwas in the past have ordered radical Islamists to kill Mickey Mouse and to kill all black dogs, among some animal rights decrees.

Congress Should Read Before Voting

Would you recommend to a friend a book you hadn’t read?

This is akin to what many members of Congress do every time they vote, albeit which much more dire circumstances than suggesting a poorly written novel to a friend. Members of Congress routinely create and then vote on bills that are hundreds of pages long and contain legislation pertaining to unrelated issues.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced last week that he thinks this is ridiculous. On Friday, he introduced a bill that would give legislators one full day to read for every 20 pages of legislation presented before a vote is held.

Paul blasted the Senate last week just before it approved a massive bill extending highway funding, Federal flood insurance and low student loan rates in a span of 600 pages.

“For goodness sakes, this is a 600-page bill. I got it this morning,” Paul said Friday.

The highway-flood-student loan bill came up for vote just a day before authorization for highway spending was set to expire and two days before the interest rate on loans was set to double. Paul said that is no excuse for passing a bill without reading its contents.

The Senator also introduced separate legislation (SB 3359), that would prohibit the inclusion of more than one subject in a single bill.

 

 

Perhaps Congress didn’t realize they should read the bills they vote on because it goes unmentioned in “Schoolhouse Rock.”